An Axe or a Hammer, That is the Question

As you might know, I have recently leveled my Slayer to 40 (oh no, you’re not avoiding personal entries, suck it up). I was leveling him with a friend who, upon entering T3,  just flew to LotD and got to 40 in three days or so. The Slayer was all lonely so I ported him to LotD aswell and started leveling. A few hours a week and bam, he was 40 before I knew it.

I’m actually quite enjoying him, even though I get squished by pretty much anyone staring too hard at me. But I comfort myself in knowing that it’s the way of the Slayer, and that I’ll pay them back when they’re not watching. Yes, I do dirty things in your sleep… The only problem is that, having leveled him with a lot of rested xp and through power leveling, he’s only at RR20. So he’s wearing purple and blue repairable stuff, which isn’t that bad, but is lacking the bonuses sets have. I’d be getting his renown up if it weren’t for the fact that all of my chars bloody need renown. It will have to wait. Anyways, on with the show!

(Keep in mind that I am comparing 3 melee dps only, and that their evaluation is mostly based off that. Any comparisons of a broader scope would probably yield different results.)

Quicklinks for other two careers:

Slayer

Originally, they weren’t even supposed to be in the game. The role of the dwarf melee dps was at first planned to be filled by the Hammerer, which got scrapped due to not having enough flavour or an original mechanic. When the word got out that Slayers would get to be a playable career lore fans went bonkers. And with a good reason too, as Slayers are one of the most distinct and recognisable characters in Warhammer,  with rich and immersive lore backgrounds. The basic premise is that, when a dwarf disgraces himself or his family, he shaves his head in recognition of this and vows to find a glorious death in battle. They usually wear a mohawk with not much else besides that. Many do find a death in battle, but the most skilled, their honor never allowing them to surrender, fight to the last breath and defeat the most fearsome of enemies. They rise in ranks (which is reflected in the mastery trees) according to the most powerful enemy they have slain.

Survivability:

Slayers, even though it doesn’t look like they are wearing much armor, are classified as a medium armor career in WAR. The snag is that their mechanic allows them to do 25% additional damage with no penalty when they are furious, which is quite hard to sustain, and 50% more damage with a 50% penalty to armor and resistances (almost the same as 50% more damage taken, as they don’t have much toughness) when they are berserk. Needless to say, that the average Slayer will spend most of his time being berserk, and thus being very squishy. They can however, spec for a channeled melee heal, which increases their survivability by a large amount, at least compared to their outgoing damage. They still get all of the escape and anti-kiting tools of a MDPS, and combined with a dwarf armor tactic they can be quite hard to take down when not berserk.

Even though they can spec for a melee heal and have a few survivability tools, they are still easier to kill than other two careers, so Slayers get a 1 out of 3 for survivability.

Mobility:

As mentioned above, Slayers do get Charge and Break Loose (10 sec root and snare immunity), but don’t have any additional tools to help them move around the battlefield or chase kiting targets. They can spec for an AoE snare, but it’s unreliable and has a short range. Compared to the other two careers, they are certainly lacking in this department.

Slayers get a 1 out of 3 for mobility.

Burst:

Slayer’s mechanic somewhat restrains them in the first few seconds of the combat, since they need to be in furious or berserk state to really ramp up the damage they can dish out. Once they do get there though, they can unleash their heavy hitters and see the health of the enemies plummet. Additionally, their mechanic awards them with 75% increased damage on exhaustive attacks (finishers) if they use them while furious. This makes for some potent burst combinations. They also have an auto attack haste tactic, which combined with two-handed weapons produces great spike damage.

Due to their need to get “wound up” Slayers get a 2 out of 3 for burst.

Sustained Damage:

Slayers get a very nice tactic to help them with AP management, Slaughter (flat-out reduces all AP costs by 5 when furious and by 10 when berserk). Additionally, they get The Bigger They Are… (25% reduced cost on two hard hitters) and can spec for Determination (AP cost reduced to 0 when finisher is defended). They even get a group buff that reduces all AP costs. Those aren’t that high to start with, so with that amount of options regarding AP management, they can pretty much always keep the pressure going. It usually takes an AP drain to eventually lock them down, leaving them with auto attack damage to fall back on. Which isn’t bad to begin with, especially when running the auto attack haste tactic.

Slayers get a 2 out of 3 for sustained damage.

Crowd Control:

The career is really lacking in this area. All they get is a 2 second knockdown as far as hard CC goes. They can however, spec for one of the best smart CC (I call them that because they can be worked around) abilities around, Shatter Limb (AoE debuff that increases all cooldowns by 5 sec). It seriously disrupts rotations and forces enemies to use less powerful abilities that do reduced damage and healing. They don’t have anything besides that, but I guess that their debuffing and damage capacities more than make up for it.

A measly 1 out of 3 for sub-par CC.

Utility:

Slayers have good buffing and debuffing capabilities, most of which are exhaustive attacks and do need to be specialised for. As far as core debuffing abilities go they get Numbing Strike (reduces the targets chance to block and parry), Pulverizing Strike (reduces targets toughness and stacks 3 times) and Enervating Blow (reduces targets chance to crit by 100%). They can also specialise for Deep Wound (reduces incoming healing by 50%) and Devastate (reduces wounds), along with the Shatter Limb mentioned above. That’s just the debuffing part.

They have two great group buffs: Fierceness (gives everyone weaponskill every time the Slayer attacks and stacks 3 times) and Gudrun’s Warcry (reduces AP costs by 25%). They can also buff themselves with Even the Odds (toughness buff that stacks 6 times) and can spec for Rampage (attacks cannot be blocked or parried for 10 seconds).

Unfortunately, they do lack a means to debuff the enemies armor in order to increase their own damage. This forces the Slayers to stack weapon skill (they have Fierceness and another tactic that helps them with this), in order to achieve respectable damage on heavier armored targets.

For all their utility they lack an armor debuff, which gives them a 2 out of 3 in this area.

PvE:

Thanks to their mechanic, and the fact that in PvE they won’t be taking much damage, Slayers can always stay berserk and ramp up the damage they do. With the amount of AP management they can choose from, they won’t be lacking AP, even if their group doesn’t synergise very well. Additionally, their two group buffs will be welcome in any group. Their best PvE spec also enables them to AoE very well, so having them in the group is killing two birds with one stone.

With the insane amount of damage, their group buffs and strong AoE, Slayers really are the ultimate MDPS in PvE, earning a 3 out of 3.

AoE:

As mentioned above, Slayers have very viable AoE options with an AoE dot, a spammable ability that requires no target and hits 3 (can be increased to 9 with Accuracy), a speccable AoE exhaustive attack that snares targets and Inevitable Doom. ID is worth mentioning because it is a single target dot attack with an AoE component that triggers on each tick. It can be used for both single target and AoE damage with great success. Additional viability is provided with Shatter Limb, which leave the enemy nothing to counter the damage with. Though not as good at AoE as Bright Wizards (mainly because armor is easier to get than resistances), Slayers certainly aren’t much behind them.

With AoE rivaling that of Bright Wizards, Slayers get a 3 out of 3.

Common Specs:

Because they were one of the careers that was the last to be released, their abilities, tactics and morales really are very polished, along with their mastery trees. Leaving them with many viable options in terms of specialisations.

I already mentioned this in the introduction, but the names of the mastery trees reflect their nature. Skaven are fast and agile little buggers that come in hordes, which means that AoE is the name of the game – Skavenslayer is an AoE focused tree. For giants you need a big axe to chop them down, along with heavy hitting attacks – Giantslayer is a tree focused on twohanders and spike damage. Trolls in mythology can always regenerate their health, which means that a healing debuff and means to outlast them are needed – Trollslayer is a tree focusing on debuffing and wearing down your opponent.

Worth mentioning is also the fact that Slayers have some of the best M4 abilities available. Two doing AoE damage along with a 3 sec knockdown or a 50% heal debuff, and another one that has the group deal additional 300 unmitigated damage on every attack for 10 sec.

Trollslayer:

If you are planning on playing as a trollslayer, a mandatory ability to buy is Rune of Absorption (channeled attack that heals you for all damage dealt). Deep Wound (50% heal debuff) is on the way and useful in nearly all situations involving healers. Slayers that focus on dueling and solo play find Rampage (attacks cannot be avoided) indispensable, since it helps you deal with tanks and other MDPS. All tactics in the tree have a use, with Power Through (rage will no longer be exhausted by exhaustive attacks) being absolutely necessary for any serious Giantslayer build.

Giantslayer:

I have yet to try this spec because as I hear, it is heavily gear dependant and requires a very good slow twohander, performing best when you have a group to rely on. The main ability of this spec is Spellbreaker (a high damage exhaustive attack that removes any absorb bubbles), which is spammed after slotting Power Through. Devastate (wounds debuff) and Cleft in Twain (dot) both hit moderately hard and are viable in a giantslayer spec. Violent Impacts (chance to return rage on exhaustive attacks) should never be considered since Power Through does the job better, Determination (abilities cost nothing when your attack is defended) has its uses, but Breaking Point (increases the chance to crit with giantslayer abilities by 15% with receiving 10% more crits aswell) is another mandatory tactic for this build.

Skavenslayer:

This is the most viable tree for a fresh Slayer that has the support of a group and wants to actually Slay anything he lays his eyes on. The build has nice burst along with enough staying power and CC in the form of Shatter Limb (godlike). Inevitable Doom (a single target dot that pulses AoE damage) is your bread and butter and should always be on cooldown. No Escape (short ranged AoE damage and snare) is less than mediocre, since it’s unreliable and you need to drop your rage when you use it. Runic Blessings (25% chance to self resurrect on death) is generally considered to be too situational, so most don’t take it. Accuracy (Flurry now hits 9 targets but base damage is reduced by 20%) is good for an all out AoE build, but ID does good enough damage without needing to use Flurry. I wrote about Takin’ Chances and why it’s good for T2 Slayers before (I later discovered it scales poorly and is not worth slotting past T2).

Tips:

  1. If you are planning on running solo as a Slayer prepare to die a lot, even if you are running Rune of Absorption.
  2. If you are planning on running an all out damage giantslayer or skavenslayer build, prepare to die even more if you don’t have the support of a tank and healers.
  3. SHATTER LIMB, I can’t stress this enough, spec into it. It seriously messes up groups of destro and gives you or your team a big advantage.
  4. Learn to manage your rage.
  5. Mask your debuffs, which means that after applying one you should immediately apply a dot (like Relentless Strike, Onslaught or Cleft in Twain). Because, when cleansing, the debuff that was applied last gets removed and all cleanse abilities have a 5 sec cooldown.
  6. Pick your targets carefully. While enemy clothies may be your food, you will be food for enemy MDPS if you overextend.
  7. If you see a dps Ironbreaker or a White Lion with the armor debuff, assist them. Ideally, an IB will guard you and buff you with his oathfriend buffs, you will be slaying things with the help of his armor debuff, and you will be off to conquer the world together.
  8. Remember that retreating is never a cowardly act if it keeps you alive and enables you to do more slaying.
  9. Stack weaponskill at the same ratio as you are stacking strength/melee power. Even more if you are close to the strength cap (Wild Gambit is worth it’s weight in gold).
  10. Stacking any kind of survivability stats except wounds is unwise, because most get debuffed when using Slayer tactics and abilities anyway.
  11. Kamenra is worth spending a talisman slot on, maybe a bit less than as a WL but still very much worth it.

Closing Thoughts:

The Slayer is a career that can accommodate a really simple playstyle. Simply staying in berserk and dumping all of your damage on your targets will make you a powerful opponent, depending on how good your gear is. On the other hand you can play it smarter and drop rage when getting targeted, detaunt and pull back, which makes for a more durable MDPS. Even relying on your exhaustive attacks hitting hard when furious and using them before going berserk works. Either way, all the usual skills for playing a MDPS are needed when playing the Slayer aswell. Positioning, picking targets wisely, being careful not to overextend, being able to predict sticky situations and get out of them,… Learning those things will help you kill more efficiently.

Though the career has some solo viability, I really need to stress that Slayers need a good group to back them up, in order to shine. When allowed to take full advantage of their mechanic they will do enormous amounts of damage, but with doing so their survivability takes a deep dive. So the only way to stay berserk and not get killed is a guard and lots of heals. I honestly wouldn’t recommend this career to anyone who wants to primarily solo his way through the game. Or to someone who is afraid of dying and doesn’t like respawning.

The good:

  • Good burst.
  • Great sustained damage.
  • Strong AoE.
  • Loads of utility.
  • Plenty of viable specs.

The bad:

  • Almost no CC.
  • Quite squishy.
  • Requires support to unleash full potential.
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4 thoughts on “An Axe or a Hammer, That is the Question

    • Yeah, Spanner of the Fallen Explorer. I used to actually use the spanner from BS influence on my IB until I got better. But I don’t like my Slayer looking like a handyman. :P

      I had no idea about that hammerer gear. :o

  1. Pingback: Freelance: Slayer « Don't mention ze WAR!

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